Let me just peel back the curtain for a moment: When I pitched this opinion piece to our editor/overseer recently, he asked if it could be ready for around the release of the Dead Space remake, no doubt hoping for maximum effect and coverage. Reader, I missed that deadline, mainly because I was writing about why using a controller with Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition on Xbox wouldn’t be an issue.
But then I looked at the gaming calendar for 2023 and something occurred to me. It really didn’t matter when I would have this ready, because there is always a remake around the corner. This year alone we’ve had the aforementioned Dead Space, and we’re still getting Like a Dragon: Ishin!, Resident Evil 4 and Story of Seasons: A Wonderful Life. That’s just off the top of my head.
And that’s why we need to talk about video game remakes. They’re not everyone’s cup of tea, but why then are so many appearing?
Remakes are nothing new after all. Hollywood has determined every film must belong in a wider universe, so let’s remake everything to tie it all together. Heck, even one of my favourite bands, Thrice, just remade their album The Artist in the Ambulance to celebrate its 20th anniversary and bring it up to date with their more modern sounds. And, I may be clutching at straws here, but isn’t a cover version of a song essentially a remake? When you apply the logic that Glen Schofield, the original creator for the original Dead Space game wasn’t involved in the ‘cover version’ of the 2023 remake, there is definitely an argument to be made.
So, the practice of remaking is nothing new. It has been around since ‘media’ existed and will continue ad infinitum. In fact, whilst I cannot prove anything, there is a more than reasonable assumption that a game we will never have the opportunity to play way in the future, due to our untimely demise getting in the way, will be remade even further down the line.
We need to look closely at the reasoning behind the remakes to see if this can help understand their frequency and reliance.
Looking at those already announced, Dead Space is first on the list. Now, this one feels like a strange one. After all, the original was only released in 2008 and is perfectly playable today on Xbox Series X|S through backwards compatibility and EA Play. So, this remaster clearly isn’t to address accessing the game on current hardware, like other remakes would argue. The reality lies with the success of other remakes.
Dead Space is up there with the best survival horror games of all-time, easily standing toe-to-toe with the likes of Resident Evil 2, Resident Evil 3 and Silent Hill 2. The former two having already received positive remakes, in particular Resident Evil 2. And with EA not typically being seen as the first developer you think of when it comes to single player games, they wanted to change that perception. And between this and Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, EA are making a statement about single player being very much alive.
Of course, the highly successful remakes of Resident Evil 2 and 3 are the reason we are now getting Resident Evil 4 remade. Compared to the original releases of 2 and 3, Resident Evil 4 already feels very much more modern. The fixed camera angles and slower shambling of zombies were overhauled, and Resident Evil 4 went on to be seen as the series highpoint. This remake is an absolute no-brainer when you take all this into account.
Many fans are also suggesting that Resident Evil – Code: Veronica is next for the remake treatment. All signs point to Capcom not being done with remaking their Resident Evil games.
Another remake that makes perfect sense – depending on which part of the world you like in – is Like a Dragon: Ishin! Whereas this was originally a launch title for the PlayStation 4 in Japan, it was one of a handful of Yakuza/Like a Dragon games that never released in the West. Now, the remake is having a simultaneous global release, such is how the series reputation has improved on Western shores.
The original release of Ishin is the most recent of the games being discussed here, but is arguably the most difficult to get hold of. Hopefully this remake means that other games in the series previously unavailable outside of Japan get the same remake treatment. And while we’re on the beg, a remaster of Yakuza: Dead Souls would go down a treat.
Finally, there is Story of Seasons: A Wonderful Life, a remake of Harvest Moon: A Wonderful Life. If you have never delved into the legal surroundings around the name change from Harvest Moon to Story of Seasons, I implore that you do. No amount of me trying to explain it here will help ease the confusion.
It is likely that this name change has had a major factor in plenty of older Harvest Moon titles being remade under the Story of Seasons banner. A power move from developer Marvelous, or just because the world now loves a cosy farming sim game?
Remakes are going nowhere. They are as much a part of the gaming release calendar as indies and AAA titles are. But hopefully this has shed some light as to why so many remakes exist; there are many reasons to remake a game as outlined above. We’d be foolish to not think there wasn’t an element of safe money over a new IP being a factor too.
But, regardless of your thoughts on remakes, I bet we all have one game/series we’d love to be revived. I’ll start: TimeSplitters. Fingers crossed that happens sooner rather than later.
Let us know yours in the comments below.